Premise: Isabella’s Heiress provides an interesting and intriguing premise, bringing to life the idea of a purgatory-like concept, where those that die before their time are provided the opportunity to gain their way into heaven by completing a set task, or are delivered into the hands of their enemy to be tortured on their way to hell.
The main character, Emma Elliot, is a woman in her late twenties who finds herself in this strange realm, a version of London that reflects the centuries and times of the past in dark and dreary manners. Emma discovers early on in her time there that the people of this realm believe her to be the reincarnation of a heroine from the 1600s, named Isabella, which would make Emma the answer to a prophecy made after Isabella mysteriously disappeared during a battle between her family and her enemy.
Emma must complete her task in the allotted time, all the while trying to figure out her role amidst the prophecies and the impending war that will leak out from these planes where the dead roam into the real world.
Thoughts: The premise of the story itself was quite intriguing. As someone who loves stories about other planes of existence, angels, death, and all the things that surround it, the story definitely leapt out at me as one that could be of interest. The prologue of the story, which introduces us to Isabella and her strange demise, sets up the reader for quite the ride, as this young woman’s role in what is transpiring in the spirit world is hinted at being a very big deal.
Coming up with what I would rank the story in a five star setting was difficult. The writing itself was very good, easy to read, and engaging and descriptive enough to paint a solid picture of what was going on around and throughout. One need not be familiar with London or it’s history to get a strong mental image of the setting, and the details of the setting. The author’s ability to weave his knowledge, interest, and ideas from different concepts into the story was quite obvious.
Where I struggled with the rating was in two specific areas: one, the introduction into the story. It was very long, and drawn out, taking nearly 100 pages into the book for anything to actually start happening. I say this acknowledging that there are readers out there who appreciate long, drawn out introductions to allow them time to understand the character, the setting, and the difficulty of the task set before the MC. For myself, however, I am a fast-pace reader. I like enough of the intro to know what is going on, before an immediate dive into the story.
That being said, once I made it past the first 100 pages, the story picked up quite nicely, and was engaging enough that I flew through the rest of the book in less than two hours, and was unable to put it down. It was emotional, it was action-packed, and it had enough going on that I simply had to know what happened next.
The whole concept of the story was incredible – could you imagine if each of us had to learn how to manipulate the living world, objects in it, and people in order to complete one final, heart-wrenching task that would allow us to pass through the pearly gates after our death?
Another struggle came in with the end of the story and how it played out. For all the build up of who Emma was, and what her connection and her completing her task was meant to be, there wasn’t much of an end for that. There also wasn’t really much of a connection between Emma and Isabella, despite the build up of what Isabella’s return was supposed to mean.
Conclusion: On the five-star ranking system, I would give Isabella’s Heiress 4 out of 5 stars. The book has a lot of potential, presents incredible concepts, and an interesting premise. The book was really long, which to me is a good thing, but it lacks in follow-through in my opinion. It’s the kind of story that could make a great series; there is so much to explore, and there are so many potential lines the story could have taken. I would definitely like to see a sequel to the book, to see what happens after the story ends.
I think I would have liked to have seen a deeper look into the Cordoban Council (the ‘good’ guys) and the Cado Angelus (the Fallen Angels), the connection with the church in our world, and how Emma effects all of their goals. The story touches on each of those ever so briefly, without full explanation or depth, and I feel like having more about all those areas would have made for a much stronger story.
I would definitely recommend the book to anyone who likes exploring ideas of life after death, other planes, spirituality and everything else connected to it. It’s also one that will end up on my ‘to be reread’ shelf at least a couple of times. I’ll also be keeping my fingers crossed that N.P. Griffiths will be writing more books from this story, as you can bet I will be picking them up if he does.
With today’s review, I also have a free e-book of Isabella’s Heiress to give away! To be entered into the draw for the book, please comment that you are interested. I will make the draw next Thursday!